Joginder Chaudhary was his parents’ greatest pride, raised with the little they earned farming a half-acre plot in central India to become the first doctor from their village. For the coronavirus, though, he was just one more in a million. After the virus killed the 27-year-old Chaudhary in late July, his mother wept inconsolably. With her son gone, Premlata Chaudhary said, how could she go on living? Three weeks later, on Aug. 18, the virus took her life, too—yet another number in an unrelenting march toward a woeful milestone. Now, 8 1/2 months after an infection doctors had never seen before claimed its first victims in China, the pandemic's confirmed death toll on Tuesday eclipsed 1 million, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University. Some notes from the AP:
- The virus is seeing a quickening spread through India, where reported deaths have topped 96,000 and cases are increasing at the fastest rate in the world.
- The United States, where the virus has killed about 205,000 people, accounts for 1 out of 5 deaths worldwide, far more than any other country despite its wealth and medical resources. Brazil has recorded the second most deaths after the US, with about 142,000. India is third and Mexico fourth, with more than 76,000.
- Even at 1 million—greater than the population of Jerusalem or Austin, Texas, and more than four times the number killed in the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean—the toll is almost certainly a vast undercount. Many deaths were probably missed because of insufficient testing and inconsistent reporting, and some suspect concealment by countries like Russia and Brazil.
- And the number continues to mount. Nearly 5,000 deaths are reported each day on average. Parts of Europe are getting hit by new outbreaks and experts fear a second wave may await the US.
- The pandemic’s toll of 1 million dead in such a limited time rivals some of the gravest threats to public health, past and present. It exceeds annual deaths from AIDS, which last year killed about 690,000 people worldwide. The virus’ toll is approaching the 1.5 million global deaths each year from tuberculosis, which regularly kills more people than any other infectious disease.
- For all its lethality, the virus has claimed far fewer lives than the so-called Spanish flu, which killed an estimated 40 million to 50 million worldwide in two years, just over a century ago.
- "We’re only at the beginning of this. We’re going to see many more weeks ahead of this pandemic than we’ve had behind us," says Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University.
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